Training: Part 2 – (Don’t) Say My Name

Contrary to Destiny’s Child’s song, one very important lesson we learned from our trainer (and research) is how quickly we overuse our dog’s name. We use it for so many reasons that he’s learned to only respond when he wants to.
“Knox, come here.”
“No, Knox.”
“Stop it, Knox.”
“Good boy, Knox!”

For the most part, we haven’t reached the point where we’ve “worn it out.” He will usually check in with me if I say his name on a walk, or if we’re walking through a crowd of people.

As an energetic (and sometimes, overly enthusiastic) dog, this was a big step forward. He is still having problems with other reactive dogs and would lose his focus with me if we went by one. Saying his name could not break his concentration from that super noisy barky dog over there that’s so much more interesting!

We use our voice with our dog all the time. And every time we talk to our dog, it’s to demand for something. No wonder they tune us out so quickly!

A method we’ve been utilizing is non-word distractions and body language: making weird, interesting noises! Suddenly changing directionActions speak louder than words.

#knoxdog | training: wait

Wait, while I write out your hashtag in kibble. Thanks!

For example, we have been practicing wait:

  • Hold kibble just out of reach. Wait for disengagement.
  • If he tries to grab at it, move it away.
    • Don’t repeat “wait”!
  • Once he disengages, click or mark, and treat!

Since Knox has since mastered this, we’ve been chaining Sit, Wait, Ok together. Knox uses Sit to say please, and knows he has to sit until he’s released with Ok. Here are some activities you can practice it with:

  • Before going through any door or gate
  • Before getting the water or food dish
  • Before getting a toy or treat
  • Before putting on his leash

As he advanced, he’s learned to sit and wait as I threw kibble all over the apartment for him to find. Nose work AND training at the same time. Phew, his little brain is exhausted after 15 minutes.

What a great rainy day play day! Do you practice impulse control with your dog? What activities do you do?



  1. Gloria · November 9, 2014

    Hey there! We follow you on Instagram (@callhermaeby)! When I got Maeby at three months, we used sit and wait while I would feed her. I’d put her food and water in front of her and make her wait for the release to go eat. She mastered that and will wait for other things if you make her…but she still has other issues (such as jumping on people and recall). Would love any advice you have on getting your dog to not jump (not sure if you’ve had that issue or not).


    • nicolb · November 10, 2014

      Hi Gloria! I love following you and Maeby’s photos. 🙂 With the jumping on people issue: Knox definitely had the same problem when we first adopted him. He still does it with people he loves but only sees occasionally (ironically, our trainer!). He’s stopped jumping on most people now though! The strategy:
      1. Ignore her when she jumps on you. Do a dramatic turn away (body and eyes).
      2. Once all four paws are on the ground, or she sits, treat and praise!
      3. If she jumps again after being treated, ignore again.
      Repeat, repeat, repeat.

      If she still jumps, you can always “get into her space” by walking forward a step as she jumps towards you. It’ll force her to keep her paws on the ground. Stay consistent with this and she’ll learn in no time! Keep us updated on her progress! I’ll have a few new posts about our recall classes published soon.


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